Indian civilization is said to be over 5000 years old and in all these millennia the country has developed a rich mosaic of colourful culture and fascinating heritage. The monuments of India serve as a testament to its deep and rich history. They also tell of the brilliance of its artisans and the glory of its rulers.
The annals of its long, illustrious history are etched into the many ancient temples, historic forts, and alluring architecture. In exploring these marvels, one can gain a keen insight into the story of India from its ancient roots and trace its journey into modern times.
Due to their incredible beauty and the captivating stories behind the many historical buildings our the country, the Indian Government has made continual efforts in their maintenance. This has ensured flourishing tourism from both local travellers as well as many from across the world.
So let us embark on an odyssey across the subcontinent and take a closer look at some of the best historic buildings in India.
Konark Sun Temple, Orissa
Dedicated to Surya, the Sun God of Hinduism, this 13th-century temple at Kornark has the appearance of a 100-foot-high chariot with massive wheels. It is situated on the coastline of Orrisa about 35 kilometres northeast of the city of Puri. The temple is said to have been built around 1250 CE at the behest of Narasimha Deva I.
(Image Credit: Wikipedia)
The Konark Sun Temple is linked to Brahmanism and the tantric belief system. It is considered to be among the most outstanding examples of temple architecture anywhere in the world. And, this is attested to by its conception, scale and proportion, and in the narrative strength of its sculptural embellishment.
For centuries the temple has been in ruin, and the jury is still out on the exact cause of its destruction. While some initial theories proposed that it had been destroyed before completion, this has been contradicted by historical records of the time.
The Sun Temple is among the important attractions that make Konark a popular destination in Orissa. It hosts the celebrations of two very important festivals in Orrisa. The first is the Kornark Dance Festival which takes place between December 1 and December 5 and features classical dance.
The Chandrabhaga Mela held every January sees thousands of devotees gathering a Konark, and is also very popular among tourists. After a night Yatra, people take a dip in the Chadrabhaga River after which they proceed to the temple to offer prayers to the Sun God.
Getting Here (Nearest Railway Station - Puri)
- 12802 | PURUSHOTTAM EXP - Delhi (NDLS) To Puri (PURI)
- 18409 | JAGANNATH EXP - Kolkata (SHM) To Puri (PURI)
- 11019 | KONARK EXPRESS - Mumbai (DR) To Puri (PURI)
Lotus Temple, Delhi
The Lotus Temple in New Delhi is an edifice dedicated to the Baha’i faith that is among the most visited attractions in the world. The building’s magnificent structure is shaped in the form of a beautiful lotus with white petals. The shrine was designed by Canadian architect Fariboz Sahba and its construction was completed by 1986.
(Image Credit: Temple Diary)
The temple took on the shape of a lotus for its basic architectural structure since the flower as it is a common symbol to numerous faiths including Islam, Jainism, and Hinduism. Its structure is composed of 27 free-standing petals made of marble that have been organized in bunches of three to form nine sides. The doors of each of the nine sides open into a central hall that can accommodate up to 2,500 people.
Practitioners of the Baha’i faith believe that their house of worship must be one that can accommodate adherents of any religion. The Lotus Temple is open to all, irrespective of their faith. And accordingly, the sacred texts of any religion may be read and recited in any language. However, reading any non-religious text is not permitted in the temple.
The Lotus Temple is highly popular with people from all across the world from many different religions and receives as many as 100,000 at a time on certain holidays. According to a 2001 CNN report by reporter Manpreet Brar, over 70 million people had visited the Lotus Temple since it was built.
- 22221 | NZM RAJDHANI - Mumbai (CSMT) To Delhi (NZM)
- 22691 | RAJDHANI EXP - Bangalore (SBC) To Delhi (NZM)
- 12259 | BKN DURONTO EXP - Kolkata (NDAS) To Delhi (NDLS)
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur
At the intersection of the main road in Jaipur, near Badi Chaupar shopping square, stands the massive edifice of Hawa Mahal. Its construction was commissioned by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799, while its main architect was Lal Chand Ustad.
(Image Credit: Wikipedia)
The Hawa Mahal gets its name from its unique structure which includes a mesh of small windows that allow cool air the enter the building. As a result, the interiors of the palace are kept cool even during the height of summer. The palace has five storeys and 953 small windows decorated with intricate latticework that is known as Jharokhas.
The main idea behind the construction of the Hawa Mahal was to allow the women of the royal family to observe the goings on the streets, especially during festivals. At the same time, they remain unseen from the outside per the customs prevalent at the time.
- 12987 | SDAH AII SF EXP - Kolkata (SDAH) To Jaipur (JP)
- 12955 | MMCT JAIPUR SF - Mumbai (MMCT To Jaipur (JP)
- 12015 | AJMER SHATABDI - Delhi (NDLS) To Jaipur (JP)
Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
Built during the 3rd Century BCE, the Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India. An important monument of ancient Indian architecture it was commissioned by the Mauryan emperor, Ashoka The Great.
(Image Credit: World Heritage Journeys)
The construction of the Stupa was said to have been personally overseen by Ashoka himself.
Sanchi was the birthplace of Ashoka's wife and the Stupa was the venue where their wedding ceremony took place. There are numerous stupas found within a few miles of Sanchi including sites such as Satdhara, Bhojpur, Andher, Sonari, Saru Manu, and Bharhut.
The original stupa was constructed of mud brick but was subsequently reconstructed and enlarged sometime during the 2nd century BCE. A carved railing with a stone facade was added to the 16-meter-high Stupa. The stupas house some important relics of Buddha such as his hair, teeth, and shoulder bones.
The stupas along with several monasteries, temples and an Ashokan Pillar have captivated people from all across the globe. Because of this, the Stupa has been accorded the status of “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO.
Getting Here (Nearest Railway Station - Bhopal)
- 12002 | BHOPAL SHTBDI - Delhi (NDLS) To Bhopal (BPL)
- 22129 | TULSI EXPRESS - Mumbai (LTT) To Bhopal (BPL)
- 22912 | SHIPRA EXPRESS - Howrah (HWH) To Bhopal (BPL)
Hampi Group Of Monuments, Karnataka
The grandiose and austere site of Hampi consists mainly of ruins from the mighty Vijayanagara Empire, the last great Hindu Kingdom in the Deccan. They are spread out across the Tungabhadra Basin in Central Karnataka.
(Image Credit: Wikipedia)
The collection includes more than 1,600 ruins that include forts, and sacred and royal complexes that highlight the sophistication of the varied urban and royal systems. Some notable ones among these include the Krishna Temple complex and the Hemakuta, Ganesha, and Narasimha groups of temples.
In the urban core of the ruins, one can find remnants of public infrastructure such as water ducts, roads, gateways, and markets.
While the majority of the monuments at Hampi are associated with Hinduism, there are also those of other religions. For instance, six Jain temples and monuments have been found here and there is even a Muslim mosque and a tomb. The dominant architectural style is Dravidian with a strong influence of Hindu arts and architecture from the second half of the first millennium CE.
Getting Here (Nearest Railway Station - Hospet)
- 18047 | AMARAVATI EXP - Kolkata (SHM) To Hospet (HPT)
- 12650 | YPR SAMPARK KRT - Delhi (NZM) To Hospet (HPT)
- 16533 | JU SBC EXP - Mumbai (KYN) To Hospet (HPT)
Legacy Set in Stone
Exploring the history of India can go a long way in getting acquainted with the country as a whole. And in many ways, the historical buildings of the land are an embodiment of the Indian story just as its people are arguably its soul.
A colourful and diverse tapestry of creativity, ingenuity, and of course a great deal of industrious diligence and dedication. Visiting these spectacular monuments will give you a true appreciation of the legacy of the Indians across the ages.